It was revealed last week that Instagram are working on new features that will encourage users to be more aware of how long they spend on the platform. The first feature is a “Usage Limits” tool which will show users how much time they are spending on the app. The second feature will let users know when they have seen all of the posts from the previous 48 hours in an attempt to prevent endless scrolling.

Founder and CEO, Kevin Systrom, confirmed the new features on Twitter, quote tweeting an article from TechCrunch with the caption, “It’s true”. He then revealed that the platform is “building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram – any time should be positive and intentional.”

Today’s society is now very much aware of false advertising, fake news and that what is posted on our news feeds is probably not a direct representation of real-life. With this awareness, comes concerns over our well-being from spending too much time online. This explains why companies such as Instagram, Facebook and Google have all reinforced features aimed at improving user wellness.

Image source: Jane Manchun Wong

The amount of time we should spend on these platforms has been an ongoing debate and it only seems now as if social media platforms are starting to respond to these concerns and look for ways in which they can combat them.

Instagram is not the first platform to implement such features. Earlier this month, YouTube announced a new feature that let users set up reminders telling them to take a break. As well as a feature that lets users change their settings so that they only receive one daily notification rather than as they happen.

Back in 2016, former Google Design Ethicist, Tristan Harris, set up non-profit organisation ‘Time Well Spent’, in an attempt to “reverse the digital crisis”. The organisation aims to inspire companies to “redesign their devices and core interfaces to protect our minds from constant distractions, minimize screen time…”.

It’s not just social media platforms responding to these changes, brands have also started to pay attention. In February of this year, Motorola released a blog calling for a “better phone-life balance”.

With the new EU data regulations coming into effect on the 25th May, there are more concerns than ever about how we use social media and the reasons behind why we use it.

As mentioned before, brands are responding to these concerns by re-thinking their strategies, products and features to reassure users that they can use social media in a way that is more productive and will benefit them.

However, it also raises the question as to whether brands are doing this in a bid to stay relevant and keep up with current topics.

Are social media platforms and brands responding to a “trend” emerging from user concerns over their well-being?

Or are we witnessing the start of a shift in the industry and will this alter the way in which we use social media?